Ongoing Games (In-Character)Play-by-post games are going on in this forum as we speak (well, read). All threads on this board are actual games, so please, only post on a thread if you are a player of that game.
Not the least glimmer of light escaped the castle's tall black windows. Its broken battlements sketched a jagged line across the darkened sky. Castle Ravenloft brooded over a bleak, mist-shrouded valley. Constructed on the sheer side of a thousand-foot cliff, the terrible fortress was occupied by something ancient and evil...
Your wagon has been traveling for several days, winding thorough forest paths in wilderness that may by all rights be uncharted. The farther you go, the more you are given an unsettling feeling. As creepy and ominous as the journey is, it is an important one.
You have tracked the object of your desire to the small hamlet of Barovia; a place far from city comforts and war-torn battlefields alike. Where the land itself seems to have been exiled from the rest of the world, lies an ancient artifact. Many legends exist surrounding this item, its previous owners, and their heroic deeds. You believe with all of your soul that this artifact belongs in your hands, and with it you will forge your destiny. To that end, you will brave any perils to see your goal through.
As you sought passage to Barovia, you met an interesting individual. He claims to be a lorekeeper for a Gnomish chapter of Lightbringers. He refers to himself as Barnaby, stating that as the name his best human friend calls him, and therefore the name he uses in human lands. He offers a few gold pieces and free entertainment if he may accompany the party to Barovia.
His presence makes the trip go much faster. His songs, jokes and pleasant conversation keep the mood light, and everyone's mind off all the unpleasantness. He gives great conversation on history, nobility and works of fiction. His knowledge of lore and spellcraft are enough to keep even the most learned wizard engaged. He has a vast knowledge of the sword coast, and even has tales of exploits that would make a master thief envious. He makes a genuine attempt to cater to his audience, and play music they like. He takes requests, and plays the songs flawlessly.
After getting to know the party in almost no time, he seems quite open. He sees himself as somewhat of a clergyman or mission. He is quick to open up to strangers, which causes them to open up to him. As somewhat of a traveling problem solver, this helps him help others. He has with him a letter. It arrived when he was resting at a Lightbringers-friendly temple. After scribing several copies for them, he kept one and decided to personally respond. He is more than willing to show whomever he meets, and makes a point to show every other Lightbringer he comes in contact with.
Hail to thee of might and valor:
I, a lowly servant of the township of Barovia, send honor to thee. We plead for thy so desperately needed assistance within our community.
Our village is nestled in the Svalich Woods, an ancient forest that has long laid quiet with the weight of ages on its shoulders. But recent nights have brought the howls of wolves to our ears, and the night of the last full moon brought far worse out of the forest. Enormous wolves attacked with unnatural savagery, killing many of us and leaving many more wounded.
The love of my life, Ireena Kolyana, was one of those wounded, and I fear for her. Her injury refuses our healing remedies and she languishes abed.
There is much wealth in this community. I offer all that might be had to thee and thy fellows if thou shalt but answer my desperate plea.
Come quickly, for I dread the rising of the next full moon! All that I have shall be thine!
As you draw nearer to your destination, it grows eerily quiet. Black pools of water stand like dark mirrors about the muddy roadway. A pall of thick, cold mist spreads over the ground. Giant tree trunks stand guard on both sides of the road, their branches clawing at the mists. In every direction the fog grows thicker and the forest seems more oppressive.
The wagon suddenly comes to a halt, and the wagoner begins rapping on the front of the carriage. "Alright folks, this is as far as the horses and I go. Thanks for the patronage, and best of luck to ya." The road seems to stretch forever in either direction, losing itself in the fog and bare trees. A sign post reading "Barovia" points farther down the road. The post has no sign pointing in the other direction. As you follow the road further, it descends into the valley, and eventually leads to a large gate.
A man sat beside the driver of the wagon, having preferred to stay alert during their journey. He wore a deep red cloak over his well shined armor, a sure way to stick out in such a drab and dreary as Barovia.
When the wagon came to a halt he grabbed his pack and hopped down with the clink and chang of heavy armor plates sounding when his feet hit the road. He slung his pack over his shoulder, turning to look at the companions this journey had afforded him.
"Agreed Mr.Peppers. This gloom is not very inviting, let us hope that the gates of the town give us more hospitality."
He turned to attend to the wagon, making sure nothing of the groups was left behind.
During the trip there has been a halfling running from side to side and front to back of the wagon gaping at all there is to see. In between nearly falling from the wagon multiple times by leaning too far off the sides of the jostling cart in an effort to peer into the gloom, he returns to a large wooden crate covered by a big black tarp, methodically checking the ties to make sure nothing has shifted or come undone during the trip.
Oddly, he doesn't appear the least bit upset about the dreary pall cast about the area. Once the wagon stops he begins undoing the straps that hold his crate in place. All the while he whistles a happy tune. As he works away at the straps and knots, he is overheard to say:
"Wow! The first big adventure of my very own."
Last edited by lorddumonde : 06-05-2011 at 09:40 AM.
Gray in the fog, high stone pillars loom up from the impenetrable woods on both sides of the road. Huge iron gates hang from the stonework, dew clinging to their rusting bars. Standing before the pillars are two stone statues of armed guardians with wicked polearms. Their carved heads lie among the weeds at their feet, neatly broken from the stone shoulders. As you approach the gates, they slowly begin to swing open.
A plume of mist is stirred up by the moving of the gates. It is difficult to see beyond it, but the cobblestone road appears to extend straight into town.
After removing the ropes and tarp the halfling begins prying the lid from the crate underneath. The top of the crate eventually pops off and the halfling takes a step back dusting off his hands. He says:
"C'mon Bob, get up its time to go."
A humanoid skeleton stands up and steps out of the crate.
"Don't forget your helmet and your hammer."
The skeleton bends down and picks up a horned helmet and places it upon its head. The skeleton then grabs the oaken handle of a large hammer out of the box balancing the head over his shoulder as he steps gingerly down from the wagon and comes to stand next to Eldon.
The entire time Eldon is beaming with what can only be pride. The halfling gives the skeleton a once over and says:
"Follow me, Bob."
The skeleton follows the skipping halfling toward the now opened gate.
Last edited by lorddumonde : 06-06-2011 at 08:30 AM.
Turning his gaze onto the gates as they swung open his mouth turned into a grim line. It looked ominous, the headless statues, the cobblestone disappearing into the mists. This town did not seem to be the quaint burg he was hoping for. Nothing ever seemed to be what he was hoping for in this gloomy land.
That was when he heard the halfling speak to someone, and his eyes went to his new companion. The skeleton stooped to pick up its equipment, and Ralstons hand went to his mace at his belt.
"I don't mean to alarm you sir Halfling, but this thing you've ushered from this box is an abomination. If you don't wish it destroyed post haste, you should explain yourself..."
His eyes watched the halfling, seeing that Mr.Peppers seemed to have the same idea, that the skeleton was indeed a strange and unwelcome addition to the scene.
I will normally spoiler passive knowledge checks and similar stuff. I want to let you all see this one so you can get a taste of the format I use. Also, its not info that needs to be hidden. Also, I took some liberties with the design and appearance of Casey's skeleton.
[Knowledge Religion]: As you look at the skeleton, you notice a few strange additions. Some joints appear to have metal parts, and many fake ligaments have been rigged with leather bindings. These are things made unnecessary by the dark magics that bind the creature's soul to its animated bones. The most telltale sign that this is no undead, or at least not a typical skeleton is the absence of black onyx in its eye sockets.
Sliding to a halt next to the cleric-looking gentleman, Ancho brandishes his short swords in a flourish. His green eyes darting around like fireflies, he takes in the current situation. The cleric is addressing the Halfling, inquiring as to the Halfling's post-morteum friend. Ancho snarls a response in kind.
"I'm giving you 10 seconds, Halfling. If I don't find your answer satisfactory, my blades will be drinking all ready tonight!"
Turning his head to look at Ancho quickly, he put a hand out in front of the more lithe man. He shook his head slightly.
"Steady yourself Mr.Peppers. This...thing may not be what it seems. I'm still unsure as to our little friends motives here but I've known far too many of the dead in my time...this seems more like some sort of construct, as morbid as it may be."
Looking back at the Halfling he sighed slightly.
"An explanation might put our minds at ease at least master Halfling."
The halfling, who has been preoccupied by gazing around in curiosity, suddenly notices that you're speaking to him.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa there guys! Bob's not gonna' harm anyone her, unless I tell him to. But I have no reason to do that."
Eldon turns and gives the motionless skeleton a small reassuring-type pat.
"Bob is my helper, a sort of extra set of hands. He can reach stuff of high shelves for me. He can also protect me and my friends from trouble."
When he says this last part he motions to indicate that he means you.
"My parents pulled a lot of strings and paid a lot of money to get me into Discipuli Falcori, the prestigious mage school...."
Seeing that neither of recognize the name he continues on...
"...anyway, my parents expected me to carry on the family business. My heart was never in it. That is, until I realized that the same kinds of magic that raise the dead and pervert life force are also the same forces that command, destroy and protect against the undead as well as these evil effects. So I dedicated my studies to understanding necromancy in such a way as to root out and destroy its evil uses."
"My senior thesis was to create an undead servant. For materials I traveled to Grassfallow Downs, the site of an ancient battle between hobgoblins and elves. The leader of the hobgoblin host was a wretched creature named Bahbarsk. I was able to locate his remains by his ornate helmet and his warmaul. I thought it fitting that this hobgoblin raider known for his cruelty would end up serving the cause of good as he helped me rid the world of evil."
"Oh, and instead of calling him Bahbarsk, I just call him Bob.
The halfling rambles on for quite sometime about his family's perversion with the dark art of necromancy and his goal of using it for good, and of some mage school Ancho had never heard of before. Once the Halfling tells of his trial to reanimate the remains standing before the group, Ancho decides to scabbard his swords in a flourish.
"Well, that was quite the story! I've never heard of the school of necromancy being used much for good. It will be nice to have a mind like theirs on our side for once! I'm known as Antonio Rodrigo Alejandro Peppers, Rogue Extrodinaire. However, you two may call me "Ancho" for time's sake. What might your names be Gentlemen?
Once introductions are complete, Ancho will walk towards the gates, waiting as he must for the others to join him.
"Let us get out of this bog post-haste! A warm ale will surely smooth over any hard feelings from a moment ago!"
Listening to the halfling, he grinned slightly and looked this...over again. He turned to Ancho as he listened to him and gave a sage nod. He had indeed heard of the necromantic arts turned against the undead they were so apt to control, but he had not met a practitioner of such arts in a long time.
"In that case, I'll just find him...ugly."
Giving the halfling a wide smile as he hooked his thumbs into the belt that held his mace and several potions and a scroll case he regarded both Mr.Peppers and Mr.Thorngage.
"You may call me Ralston. Ralston Allcott. Cleric of St.Cuthbert who has is far from home and has given his life to the good of this land I've found myself in. Now I have to say, an ale sounds about right after such a journey. Shall we?"
"I believe you both are correct, an ale would be very tasty. Ooh, and some stew to warm my belly, or some lamb, heck I'd even settle for some mutton, but the thing about mutton...."
Eldon rambles on rather absent-mindedly to no one in particular about the finer points of preparing and eating mutton. He motions for Bob to follow him and begins walking in the direction of Ancho's lead. He smiles up at Ralston as he passes, all the while rambling on about the application of mints and other various jellies. Bob follows behind like an obedient dog, albeit a silent and eerie one.
Barnaby hops off the wagon as it speeds off and rushes to catch up. "What a marvelous story! Reminds me of a song I wrote... perhaps if I modified it a bit... Mighty Bahbarsk, king of thrones, reduced by Eldon to a pile of bones! How delightful! You intrepid adventurers always give me the best material. Whadda ya say, once we get our heroes welcome and some ales, you can regale me with a few tales."
The streets are choked with mist, limiting vision to only a few dozen feet. The buildings here at the edge of town look abandoned, burned out, or barricaded. Garbage litters the ground, and a carrion stench assaults your nose. Ahead, an overturned hay cart blocks the street.
As you enter the misty streets of Barovia the gates slowly creak shut behind you.
beginning at your starting point, briefly describe your initial courses of action.
(OOC: To Everybody...Ill just get acquainted quickly with a little about myself since I missed the intro banter/monologue. Forgive me for rambling, but I thought )
You most likely have found it difficult to make conversation with the tall man with silver hair. He has been listening to the stories with conviction and perking from time to time to fully take in the colorful dialects and accents that among the group. Once he had a sense of your personalities...he spoke up...
"My name is Xaxil, and while I too belong to the Lightbringers, I also serve an order from another realm. The "plane" or "realm" from which my ancestors hailed had been largely decimated by forces of Evil Undeath. The perversions that tainted the soil and water there had made it nearly unlivable, and so a segment of our population set a course into the heavens, or Astral realm, to search for another home. It was during my great grandfathers generation that the pilgrimage happened, and during my grand-fathers generation that the Astra-Pilgrims had encountered the Celestials. It was also during my grand-fathers generation that they traveled back to our Mother Realm to restore contact with their lost friends and family."
Xaxil takes a moment to regain his thoughts, restore his posture, and look to the sky before speaking again. When he does, you notice he has pulled a necklace and locket from under his vest and is clutching it in his right hand.
"Our Realm, after their 20 years of absence, was nothing but a large grave...wrought with death the likes of which not even a maggot would defile. With the use of mystic teachings learned from the Celestials, my Grand-Father set to cleansing his former home. My own Father was there to see his Father...my Grand-Father...drained of his life-force. Afterwards, the few remaining Pilgrims and their children re-situated themselves in the Astra-Sphere and were graciously accepted by our Celestial hosts. This is where and when my father met my mother. Our hosts...excuse me..."my family", were themselves filled with a conviction against the existence of Undeath. We have all sworn an oath to crush Undeath wherever we may find it. We have become strong with many Astra-Fleets. Strong enough to send Souls like myself with Kelemvor's blessing to farthest reaches to prevent what happened to my Grand-Fathers realm from happening again. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Mt. Celestia. I've watched rays of Searing Light glitter in the dark near the Thanasosian Gate. All those moments are now lost in time...".
Turning to look Xaxil up and down, he gave a thin smile, and a nod to the man. His story was indeed one that Ralston could listen to again and again. It was a tale of sorrow and of a homeland plagued, but he himself had suffered through similar plight at the hands of the dead.
His mind was brought back to more pertinent things though when the gates of the town were passed. He kept to the back of their small procession, his eyes trying to pierce that thin veil of fog that covered the town. His spoke, his voice grim and kept silent, as if someone might be listening.
"I've got a bad feeling about this. Hard to see in this haze, and it doesn't smell very nice either...Anyone see signs of life?"
Xaxil looks Ralston eye to eye...though without the narrow smile.
"Do I sense some annoyance in your approach to met? It is as if you have suffered at the jokings by some rude knave at your own history. Or maybe you believe me to be the bastard who mocks you? Hear me at once everybody...if you will.
At this moment Xaxil whips back his silvered cloak and draws forth his Bastard Sword. Unblinking, he goes on...
"We are not the only ones to have lost family, and rightly I am sure that Benson's spirit is on a higher platitude and holding a torch for all of us right now. Magister Thorngage, surely you too feel a sense of loss toward your family in their fall from the lighted path. Your spirit and approach is are both unique to me. And you...Mister Peppers...I hope that whatever knack that you are keeping concealed will hasten our mission. Mr. Barnaby, your attention to detail is amazing and I am certain that your travels have shed much Light from from the tales of we who call ourselves Bringers. Surely this ill tempered land before us is in dire need of consecration."
Hoping to have simply flushed out whatever evil might be lingering nearby, or likewise to shed words of light that might bring out whatever innocent souls may be in hiding...Xaxil ends his speech. Holding his Bastard sword in both hands now, he moves forward forward after focusing his detect undead ability until he is just before the doorway to the empty building.
I cast Mage Armor on myself. I move to stand at E4 with Bob at E5. I peer around in the gloom and look for anything that seems interesting or out of the ordinary. Items of special interest include the broken pile of wagon up ahead.
Keeping with the party, Ralston kept his eyes peeled to make sure he knew the location of his partners. As he entered the city proper with them, he watched Xaxil approach one of the buildings, moving up as well, thought not as far as the other man.
He turned and watched as Eldon weaved a bit of magic about himself, obviously the halfling had the same thoughts as Ralston. This place seemed quite uninviting at present. He readied his shield and heavy mace, watching Xaxil for the moment to see if anyone answered him.
Ready my shield for my standard action, then move to H4 and draw my mace during the move.
As the door next to Xaxil swings open, a human corpse stands on the other side. Several more walking dead emerge from behind the cart and from various buildings. They make their way toward the party with outstretched arms, and black ichor dripping from their gaping mouths.
Two large rats, roughly the size of dogs, scurry about, following the walking corpses, but keeping their distance.
The surprise round is done. Go ahead and take your first round actions. The monsters go after the party.